Royals seek first state semi-final since 2003

Mason County travels to Grayson on Friday to face East Carter for a Class 3A regional championship. Kick-off is 7:30 p.m. (Evan Dennison, The Ledger Independent)

Two teams entering somewhat unknown territory will face off when Mason County travels to Grayson on Friday to face East Carter in a Class 3A Region Championship game.

The Royals haven’t been in a regional title game since 2013, when they lost two consecutive years to Bourbon County in 2012 and 2013, haven’t won since 2003, when Dustin Grutza was passing assists. to Chris Lofton.

As for the Raiders, the last time they made state quarterfinals was in 1983. Last week’s victory over Ashland Blazer was the first on the program, with the Raiders hoping to win another first. with a regional title Friday with a victory over the Royals.

Mason County enter with a 9-3 record, finally breaking through the Fleming County wall last week, breaking a nine-game losing streak to their border county rival and winning their first district title since 2013. They l ‘did with their defense again, posting their third shutout of the season in an 8-0 win. Since giving up 63 points in straight losses to Montgomery County and Tates Creek, the Royals have allowed just 56 points in their last nine games, an 8-1 record in that streak and the best defense. of class 3A with only 10.5 points per game.

“They are athletic on defense and play extremely well in space,” said Raiders coach Tim Champlin. “Defensively they are using this to their advantage, they have done a good job of keeping people in low scoring games and not allowing teams to have explosive plays on them. They are never out of position, always in the right places and it is difficult to block them.

The Raiders come in with a 10-3 record, winning the Class 3A, 7th District title with Ashland and Russell. They own wins over both teams this season, beating Russell 42-29 on October 22 and Ashland last week, 26-16, avenging a 31-20 loss to the Tomcats on October 8.

East Carter enjoyed a solid RPI throughout the season to get the game at Grayson. It’s an exciting time for Carter County, East as well as West Carter still playing, with the Comets fighting for a Class 2A regional championship when they play in Middlesboro on Friday.

“A very exciting time to be a football player in Carter County. East and West are competing for regional championships, there has been a lot of buzz around town and in the school system. We really are. delighted to have this opportunity, ”said Champlin.

The Royals’ defense is set to face one of their toughest challenges yet, stopping the Raiders back Charlie Terry. The senior running back has 1,558 rushing yards in the coming season with 28 touchdowns in 189 carries, racking up 8.2 yards per carry every time he touches it.

“Their line is good, they are opening holes for him. He’s a stallion and can go home with any play. We’ll have to tackle as a group and run to the football to stop him, ”Royals coach Joe Wynn said.

That’s not all Terry though, with the Raiders able to pitch him, Kanyon Kozeee 72-for-137 on the season for 1,131 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions. He can also put it away and run it, racking up 354 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season.

“He does a good job of handing the ball over to the open player and not forcing him. If it’s not there, it does a good job of tidying it up and keeping it running, ”Wynn said.

Mason County knows it needs to improve offensively to win in this one. They left three drives in the Fleming County red zone last week without points, missing two baskets and groping on the two-yard line the other time. Finishing training is a must at the end of the season.

“It’s huge, possessions are at a premium in the playoffs. If we play like we did offensively last week, we’re going to fall apart. Every possession raises the bar and raises the stakes in the playoffs. Like last week, an early score would be good for us and take some pressure off that side, ”said Wynn.

The Royals showed off several looks last week, first out of five wide and Keshaun Thomas pulled off a 55-yard run to give the Royals the first and only score of the game last week.

Two more trips to the red zone were organized by fade passes from Ashton Adams on a spectacular dive capture of Terrell Henry and Mason Butler snatching another hitch in the air. The Royals have shown a lot of diversity this season with 15 different players scoring touchdowns and not knowing what’s coming with Thomas or Adams at quarterback.

This causes some concern for Champlin.

“They have kids who can run, jump and catch all over the field. We have tried to emulate them and we have to do a good job of keeping them in front of us and capitalizing on mistakes and turnovers, ”said Champlin. “It’s a squad split up in formations, but they do things to get some extra guys in the box and you also have to focus on the passing game and contain it. We’ll have our hands full on how to balance what to hold offensively. You can’t sell and stop the race, you have to eliminate both and limit them and it will be a tough job for our defense this week.

There should be another solid atmosphere with County Mason that should bring a cheering bus to the students on what should be a chilly night, with temperatures between 30 and 30 seconds at kick-off. But no rain is expected and the wind will not be a factor.

“It’s a small stadium so there will be people on the sidelines, in the end zones like last week, so we have to focus on the game. We’re here to win a game, to focus on the game, to let the fans cheer. As big as this game is for us it is huge for them, there should be a good atmosphere in a cold game, “said Wynn.

Kick-off is set at 7:30 p.m.

The two have common opponents this season, Montgomery County and Greenup County. The Royals lost 41-14 to Montgomery on August 27 while East Carter beat the Indians 22-20 in the season opener on August 21. The Royals beat Greenup County 35-7 on October 29, while East has two wins against the Musketeers. , 38-13 on October 15, 30-0 on November 5 in the first round of the playoffs.

History is on the Royals’ side in this one, 16-8 against the Raiders and won 11 in a row. Their last meeting was in 2014, a 50-0 victory for the Royals in Maysville.

The winner of Friday’s contest will most likely see a different opponent next week. If Mason County wins, a trip to Louisville looms against Christian Academy-Louisville if CAL beats Paducah Tilghman. If the Blue Tornado managed the surprise, the Royals would then play against winner Glasgow-Bardstown in the State semi-finals.

If East Carter wins they are considering a move to the Glasgow-Bardstown semifinal winner, if Tilghman beats CAL then the Raiders would host the Belfry-Bell County winner next week.


WHO: Mason County Royals (9-3) at East Carter Raiders (10-3)

WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

OR: East Carter High School, Grayson

PREVIOUS MEETING: Mason County won, 50-0 September 26, 2014

ALL TIME SERIES: Mason County leads 16-8

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